Man Utd wonderkid with just 85 league minutes may face Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne

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A derby day at Manchester City on Sunday would’ve been a daunting prospect if Manchester United were at full strength and riding a wave of momentum. But they will be far from full strength at the Etihad Stadium, and Erik ten Hag’s bubble of short-lived momentum was popped by a 2-1 defeat against Fulham on Saturday.

United were unbeaten in five Premier League games and had won their last four ahead of Fulham’s visit to Old Trafford, in which the Cottagers deservedly took three points back to the capital.

Following that 10th league defeat of the season – and 15th in all competitions – Ten Hag delivered more bad news.

In his press conference ahead of last night’s FA Cup trip to Nottingham Forest, the Dutchman confirmed that Harry Maguire would miss the clash and that Raphael Varane was a doubt.

The duo joined Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia on the defensive injury list, leaving United bare at the back.

United’s back four against Forest was made up of Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Jonny Evans and Willy Kambwala – not exactly how you would describe as ideal.

Kambwala, 19, had featured off the bench in the closing stages of wins against Wigan Athletic and Newport County in the two previous rounds.

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Willy Kambwala may be needed in the derby. (Image: Getty)

In December, he made his senior United debut by being named as a surprise starter in the 2-0 Premier League defeat at West Ham United, playing 84 minutes.

The towering French teenager also featured off the bench for a one-minute cameo in the following league game against Aston Villa, a 3-2 comeback win on Boxing Day.

But if Maguire and Varane remain sidelined, Kambwala will likely face the toughest test of his infant career this weekend against arguably the world’s best midfielder and striker.

City, pressing on the accelerator towards back-to-back trebles, boast Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland among Pep Guardiola’s star-studded ranks.

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Kevin De Bruyne assisted four Erling Haaland goals on Tuesday. (Image: Getty)


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The Cityzens will be the favourites for every game while that duo are fit and firing, as demonstrated in Tuesday’s 6-2 FA Cup rout at Luton Town. Haaland casually scored five goals. De Bruyne assisted four of them.

Since December 6, City are unbeaten in 18 games, winning 16 and drawing twice. Guardiola’s side haven’t tasted defeat at the Etihad since a 2-1 loss to Brentford on November 11, 2022.

There would be no shame if United are beaten by their neighbours on Sunday. But pressure would ramp up on Ten Hag if they are turned over. And any team can get turned over by these superstars in blue.

It could be down to Kambwala, with 85 Premier League minutes to his name, to stop De Bruyne and Haaland running riot again. Far easier said than done, though.